My constant search for a last-minute baby sitter when sitter A (let’s call her Martha) has had to revise for her A-level English exam after being out the night before, and backup sitter B (let’s call her Nina) was off on a road trip in Crete with her boyfriend Zane has been a bane of my life.

Perhaps I’m being dramatic (says this actor) so let’s call it a niggle.

However, one particular occasion led me with foolish and ill-advised ingenuity to my local supermarket where my five-year-old Freddie had previously struck a chord with an employee (let’s call her Faye.)

My slightly panting middle-aged form bounded toward her out of breath, gasping the words "Are you free to watch Freddie from the swimming bench while I have a swimming competition?" I gasped again. "£10 an hour, and it’s ok I’ll be there waving."

She happily obliged to this slightly odd request - delivered with machine gun-like panting - but looking up into the stalls post-swim, I noticed another parent taking the reins from Faye as she promptly fell asleep face down in her iPhone, which she had been glued to since starting to watch Freddie.

I learnt later that Faye was no longer working where she had been as she had been caught stealing.

Russell Bentley has had trouble with a babysitterRussell Bentley has had trouble with a babysitter (Image: Archant)

We laugh now, but I mention all this because local author Bee Rowlatt’s excellent new novel One Woman Crime Wave poses an awkward question: what is your babysitter doing when you're not there?

I heard about it at the Lido, as you do, and found out more: One Woman Crime Wave is about an unusually clever 15-year-old girl who can't stop stealing. Bee told me, "She is the neighbourhood's favourite babysitter but she has an uncontrollable appetite for secrets."

Since the action takes place on the streets of Camden, I wondered whether Ham&High readers might find the content somewhat close to home.

Bee laughed, "Yes readers will definitely recognise some very local references, and also some archetypal middle-class bad behaviours! But the inspiration is JB Priestley's timeless play, An Inspector Calls.

Its core message is one of community; that we are responsible for each other, and I believe that rings just as true today."

When I asked Bee if she was light-fingered when she was a teenage babysitter, she said she couldn't possibly comment...

One Woman Crime Wave (Renard Press 2024) is hot off the press, a great read.

  • Russell Bentley is an actor and writer from Belsize Park.